This was me thirty minutes ago. I was sitting in the parking lot of the post office crying and sending pitiful texts to my patient spouse. My day started with a painful doctor appointment for a loved one, included a dentist appointment for me (which is enough to make any day rough right?!) amd then my Quirky Faith post office box was stuffed full of warning notices about a package. It’s been awhile since I’d made it to the post office. Said package was RETURNED and the post office doesn’t retain records to know who it was from.
So basically I lost out on a book and a publisher or author now knows the truth which is I can’t manage all my stuff. Not that anyone who actually knows me doesn’t already know this fact.
This is me now. I took a walk. Took deep breaths. Called my mama. Looked at God’s great big world. Reminded myself I’m greatly loved. Grace is bigger than my misses and near misses.
How i I preach to myself and you can too??? You are loved. Try again.
I just adore authors. I love to sit beside them and listen as they brainstorm plots or discuss characters. I love to watch as their process unfolds and cheer on book launch days. Recently I had the opportunity to interview two lovely ladies. Here are their answers, book reviews and links to their new offerings. You'll see why I love authors and these two are on my new favorites list.
Which of your character’s do you personally identify with the most?
Tricia: I can usually identify with some aspect of most of my main characters. Though not King Respen or Harrison Vane. I would be a little scared if I identified with them. Leith handles emotions much the way I do. Renna has a lot of my fear of well, everything. Rosanna and Brandi both have my love of adventure. Alex...sad to say, I identify with his struggle with pride. Hopefully I’m less insufferable than he is, but pride does have a tendency to go after all of us in one way or another.
Sarah: Probably Maggie as she’s a mum like myself. She’s been through a lot, but she’s not bitter; rather her experiences have softened her towards others in need. I can identify with or understand ALL my characters reasoning and motivation though. That’s one of the things I love doing, getting into characters heads and figuring them out.
How has your life story impacted your writing?
Tricia: Honestly, I’m struggling to come up with an answer for this. I had a happy childhood, I have a close family, good friends. I started drawing stories at two years old before I even had much of a life to start impacting my writing. If anything, my stories have had more impact on my life than my life has had on my stories. As a writer, you have to ask yourself the tough questions and figure out what you believe and what answers you have. It forces you to think deeply and search Scriptures in a way you wouldn’t otherwise.
Sarah: My own experiences with loss, doubt, love and pain are heavily woven into what I write. Without the pain in my own life, physical and emotional, I couldn’t possibly be in a position to reach out to those hurting in similar ways. I guess that’s part of why I find I can relate to my characters, even the nasty ones. I been in bad places before, dealt with some pretty heavy things and seen things that changed me. Because of everything I’ve been through, I can relate to a wide range of people and I can share the benefit of my experience within what I write.
What do you wish your reader’s knew about why you write?
Tricia: I wish readers knew just how much prayer Christian writers put into their books. Every single thing in my books is in there because, after much prayer and Scripture-searching, I believe it gives glory to God. As readers, you might not feel it was necessary and it might not be to your personal preference, but I hope the readers never question the heart I have behind it.
Sarah: Well said Tricia. I’ve noticed since publishing, that while secular writers might get slammed for poor writing, Christian authors will have their faith questioned. It’s very disheartening when we are all striving to bring glory to the same God.
I wish readers understood that not every Christian Author writes for the same audience. For me, I want to reach the hurting and the lost. Yes, sometimes they are within the Christian community, but for me it’s more important to fulfill the mission God has been preparing me for. I write in the Christian Fantasy category because I am not ashamed of the gospel but by the same token I want to reach more than just those already ‘saved’. This means my writing has to be relatable while still providing healthy and positive examples backed by my understanding of scripture.
How has grace been evident in your life? Does grace impact your writing? How?
Tricia: Thanks to God’s grace, I’ve been a Christian my entire life, and my faith has continued to deepen the older I get. I pray as I write that God pours His grace into the words to touch others’ hearts.
Sarah: Wow. Okay, so I’m putting myself on the line here. I’ll be honest. I haven’t always lived a Christian life. I’ve been in the dark, at times crushed by fear and anxiety. I was terrified and alone, looking to worldly things for comfort. I didn’t understand the enormity of God’s love for me until later in life. I lived for so long thinking I was a Christian but had never even read the Bible, let alone studied it. I made so many mistakes, I lived apart from Jesus, without hope, without understanding of what Grace is. I didn’t understand that there is no limit to how far God will go to bring us home to Him. I didn’t understand there is nothing we can do that will change the way He feels about us. This is why I write for the lost. I’ve lived both lives. And I know what incredible freedom and joy waits for those who seek the truth.
Imagine Pocahontas in the world of Sleeping Beauty. This retelling is a fantastically fun view of women warriors, honor upheld and new love. Tricia had me believing her characters were people she knew. I'd put this book in the hands of any young adult who loves adventure with a hint of romance. Well done!
Sarah Addison-Fox writes pain and endurance as if she's seen it herself. Dissociate is the third book in The Allegiance Series which explores the intrigue of spies, slaves and redemption. If you enjoy suspense and are looking for a good weekend read this is for you.
In 2010 I visited Rwanda to work alongside friends from The Ndengera Foundation. Those ten days wrote stories on my heart which frequently spill into my daily life. Just the other day I was helping my preschooler get ready for school and we were picking out shoes. Should she wear her bright red boots or the black ones? White patented leather or purple sandals? A memory flashed.
Our mission team was out visiting families and seeing the new field which would soon be planted with apple trees. As we tromped down the path a group of local kids came and joined our parade. One little guy could not keep up because he kept having to stop to reassemble the remnants of his shoe. Ack. We have mountains of shoes at home but none here to hand this little boy. We did have duct tape. So one of the men on our team duct taped the kid's shoe back into one piece and handed it back. He was rewarded with a jubilant smile and the little boy ran down the path to catch up with his friends.
My child has shoes to spare and this kid was happy with duct tape.
In the past seven years it's been a great joy to partner with The Ndengera Foundation as they build hope in their community. Apple trees and Tilapia Farms. Goats and mechanic supplies.A gorgeous new medical clinic and an education center. The photos and stories which come home are so encouraging.In June a team is headed to Gisenyi, Rwanda to celebrate a wedding. I so want to be on that plane but its just not in the cards this year. BUT!!!! One of my friends has agreed to gift me one of their suitcase allotments on the plane to bless some of the kids in the area and I've chosen to donate this space to send shoes! They leave in less than a month so this fundraiser is a speedy race. I've got room to send 50 pairs of shoes. Will you join me?
$15 buys one pair of shoes - I'd like to raise $800 which is 50 pairs of shoes plus one duffle bag to tote the pile overseas. How fun to be able to send shoes to kids I love.
If you are interested in joining in - check out my fundraiser page HERE.
This has been the view from my back window for the last several months. My two beautiful California Lilacs succumbed to the snow and ice this last winter. As spring approached I really hoped they would bounce back. But alas, turns out Californians don't appreciate snow. I was super sad as these two plants were gifts so for a few months I refused to face reality and left the sticks in the dirt. Finally I decided they were beyond saving and my spouse chopped them down. Our yard debris bin was overflowing.
We bought this cheerful banana tree at the home and garden show and hauled it home with this cheerful girl.
Before we could plant the new tree I had to tackle the stump. Let me rephrase. My husband offered to tackle the stump but I wanted to take on the challenge. I was in a funk and I know something about myself - a huge does of hard physical work usually restores my mental cheer.
It was hard.
The roots were intertwined and the dirt had hardened into the clay concrete typical of the Pacific Northwest. Intertwined roots in clay concrete. No wonder it was difficult.
About halfway through the process I figured out I react very similarly when change hits my life. I don't like change. I fight, I don't move, I dig in and hold still. Problem is not being willing to bend or flex is a good way to die. And insisting on keeping things the same never allows for new life.
I got the stump out.
I like our new plant. As I look at this photo I'm noticing we need a new fence....change is inevitable. I'm learning to flex.
Sarah Thebarge's new book Well made me mad. And happy. It made me think and it made me want to take Ms. Thebarge aside and explain a few things. It made me shocked at my own excess. This book frustrated the heck out of me and I loved parts of it enough to reread it again.
The book is tag lined "Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa". It is a retelling of Sarah Thebarge's three month medical mission trip to Hospital of Hope in Togo, West Africa. Sarah is a gifted writer. She is able to describe people and medical prognoses to make the reader understand. Sarah is also a deeply passionate and expressive person. I am quite positive she's a joy to have as a friend.
I loved the book though because Sarah captured perfectly the culture shock and anger at American excess when children in Africa die of preventable diseases. She stated at one point she has quit asking why God allows suffering and now she's asking why WE allow suffering. When I got home from my ten days in Africa (pitiful compared to her 3 months and nothing compared with the people who work and serve and love continuously) I was quite simply ticked. My husband had to haul me out of a Peet's Coffee before I caused a scene in confronting a spoiled mom who was returning her iced mocha because she said it was "icky". Icky is not the luxury of $5 coffee. Icky is water which is full of live parasites and having no other option to bathe your children. This book is a challenge to choose to invest in giving live, hope, love and a future to the most improvised communities. It is easy to look the other way. This book is a gorgeous invitation to look closely and then to get involved.
I was also frustrated with this book. Ms. Thebarge made it clear she did not agree with the management of the mission or with the approach of many of the life time missionaries in the area. My concern comes from a commitment to striving for unity across the Christian faith. I cringed at how Ms. Thebarge described people who had given their entire lives to this hospital, people she had judged almost immediately. While Ms. Thebarge may very well have some valid points of contention I wondered if she had shared these with her hosts prior to including the sections in her book. I think perhaps Sarah has not yet come to peace with some of her trip and I wish those chapters had been healed a bit before throwing the story to the world. I think we in the faith do better when we work out our differences and are able to show grace and love to each other despite disagreement. I completely understand disagreement. My hope though is there is more to this story - a chapter where Sarah and others wrestled through hard conversations and had relationship at the end.
Well is a book which grapples with deep pain. It faces questions of disparity, of disease, of loss and sacrifice. It also contained clear calls to love deeply and to watch for opportunities to make a difference. I loved scenes where simple songs or staying present made a difference. Most importantly, it paints a picture of a Creator who loves His people. This book made me want to know God better. The book offers no easy answers and acknowledges brokenness but it also taught the lesson of love well. Love isn't trite. But it is powerful. And perhaps powerful is the best word to describe Sarah's book. Messy and painful but powerful. It was not an easy read. But I recognized myself in the pages and it made me want to go back to Africa.
My engine light turned on a few days ago. The yellow haunting you may have a problem light. Not the red doom stop now light. I once ignored a red doom stop now light. I was five miles away from my house which was in the middle of nowhere. It was dark. My baby was in the baskseat. No cell phone coverage. I ignored the red light and the warning blaring sound. Then I ignored the massive amount of smoke billowing from my car. I made it up the hill to my house and the car stopped. It never drove again. A friend bought it for $500 and towed it away.
So this time when the yellow light came on I eyed it suspiciously. I hate car repairs. But I'm a loyal Dave Ramsey girl so we drive our cars forever to avoid having a car payment. We just spent a small fortune last week on my husband's car so the yellow light on my car was not welcome.
The yellow light didn't go away on its own. I was really hoping it would. So I gave in today and dropped the car off at the mechanic and hitched a ride with my dad back to work. All afternoon I was waiting for a phone call to find out what the damage to my checkbook would be to make the yellow light go away.
The mechanic called. He said there was good news. My yellow light was a standard PO562 code. That's great. So happy.
Turns out it means I had too much oxygen in my engine because I had not tightened down the gas cap when I got gas last time. The mechanic closed the gas cap and the yellow engine light turned off. Ah. I see. Further proof I'm a goof.
But here's what happened next.
The mechanic said he was very happy I'd brought my car in today. Turns out the shocks on my car were almost entirely shot. This had caused uneven wear on my tires and two of my tires had worn down to zero with cables showing and were primed for a blowout. A vision of a blowout with my babies in the back seat made my stomach hurt and my heart so very grateful.
See this is what happens to my all the time. God uses my dumb moves for my good. It's why I try to pay attention to Him. He is the light of the world. A light worth not ignoring.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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